Cher Public

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Regie is Eurotrash.

Venerable Opera magazine had better watch its ass, since the publication’s “We Hear That” column will probably be getting a “visit” from the Met’s thugs goons legal counsel any minute now.  For that’s what happens, isn’t is, to anyone who dares to speculate in print about future Met seasons? Well, whilst we anxiously await the news that the staff of Opera have been roughly awakened in the middle of the night and dragged off to  Room 101, let’s take a peek at their predictions.

Well, a Dmitri Tcherniakov Rosenkavalier is certainly unexpected, and goodness knows it should be the strongest possible contrast with the antique staging current at the Met. La Cieca is not so gung-ho over the Roberto Devereux, mostly because David McVicar‘s been in such a dry spell lately, and just at a guess would venture that Angela Meade‘s participation in the project would involve singing Elisabetta in an alternate cast (she’s performed the role before) instead of doing the mezzo role of Sara.

  • armerjacquino

    And meanwhile, is that Christoph ‘INGLORIOUS BASTERDS’ Waltz directing Fleming’s farewell to Covent Garden? I know he’s an opera buff, but has he ever directed any?

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      This is double great news -- a Renay farewell and, most important, Christoph Waltz’ entry to major opera. I’m sure it will not be an ugly production and his Austrian roots will serve him well to interpret Der Rosenkavalier. CG was very smart to invite him.

      • MontyNostry

        Renaaay now has five years to plan the marketing campaign for her farewell. She’s probably preparing her messaging document right now. Glad to know they’re finally getting rid of that kitsch old Schlesinger production.

        • armerjacquino

          And the Met’s old production too, with its irritating habit of making people walk through walls in the third act.

          • papopera

            La Fleming’s name is RENÉE not Renay nor Renaaaay

          • Clita del Toro

            It is Renaay Pflegming to me!

          • OpinionatedNeophyte

            Thanks for the spell check papopera, but remind us, does it say La anything on Renee’s birth certificate? #DivaBirther

          • I am curious to know if Ms. Fleming’s given name is Renee or Renée. I would opt for the first version, because Americans are notoriously afraid of accented vowels. You don’t even find them on a standard keyboard.

          • CruzSF

            Ercole, I’m sure it’s less a matter of fear than that most US Americans don’t give a damn.

    • verliebtenmadeleine

      Waltz had originally aspired to be an opera singer, I believe, but lacked the talent and went into acting instead. I think him directing ‘Rosenkavalier’ sounds like a terrific idea.

  • norma54

    The DEVEREUX casting is the most alarming. Meade mis-cast in a high-mezzo role……and Rad cast in a role that requires singing in tune and with no flutter. Go figure!

  • DurfortDM

    Well, I suppose Renee’s farewell will be an event. I really don’t know about Westbroek as the Marschallin. For a new production. At the Met.

  • Is Sara trully a mezzo role or is it a Seconda Donna role? I understand that traditionally mezzos sing the role mainly for contrast but i am not absolutely convinced that is necessarily correct or authentic. Wikipedia lists Sara as a Mezzo role but it might be more due to modern conventio s than to adherence to the score. What were Almerinda Manzzochi’s other roles?

    • armerjacquino

      The first google match for Manzocchi’s name points to the footnotes of a Donizetti biography, which lists her as a mezzo soprano. She also created the mezzo pants role of Aurelio in L’ASSIEDO DI CALAIS.

    • Camille

      That is a legitimate question, Lindoro.

      The Donizetti Society lists no critical edition extant nor forthcoming. Neither is it available through the auspices of the Fondazione Donizetti, either.

      One wonder what gives--as since the time of Gencer’s assumption of the role, not to mention La Sills’s, why would there not have been sufficient interest for such a critical edition which, generally, sheds a bit of light on performance practice of the time and a bit on the creators of the roles.

      I am curious as I missed the whole Roberto Devereux furore and don’t really know mich about it or what to think, that’s all.

      • armerjacquino

        Manzocchi was pretty clearly a mezzo, though, and I can’t find much evidence that Sara has ever been sung by a soprano. Given that in the other Three Queen operas (especially MARIA STUARDA) there has been a certain amount of interchange between who’s a mezzo and who’s a soprano, I think we’re at least able to say that Meade’s casting is very unusual.

        • luvtennis

          I really don’t think that mezzo was a real voice category in the early 1800s. Most of the seconda roles are really soprano roles. Amneris is really a dramatic soprano role. Sara is, like Adalgisa, a lyric soprano role. That said, I don’t think the role is a good fit for Meade. I agree that it is more likely that she is sharing the lead role with Radvan.

          • Amneris is really a dramatic soprano role.

            Not so much, surely. There’s one of Verdi’s famously ranty letters where he’s complaining about a production of Aida and besides the tenor omitting his romanza, one of the major issues is “a soprano Amneris?!”

            In another letter Verdi expressed the opinion that the low-lying parts of the role of Amneris are the most important and require the most care in casting. The high notes, he says, can be left out if necessary.

          • CruzSF

            Thank you, La C.

          • armerjacquino

            Yes indeed. The great Dimitrova never convinced me as Amneris (I even saw her do it live, in Rome, and to my horror can remember nothing about it) and Plowright, who whatever one thinks of her was a Verdi soprano of note for a while, is hugely disappointing in the role on the Chandos recording.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I think that if ever there was a classic ‘seconda donna’ role, it’s Sara in Devereux, and it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a mezzo or a soprano who sings it. It works well for a mezzo to be sure, but the tessitura is pretty similar to Mozart roles like the Countess or Elvira, and it’ll suit a heavy lyric like Meade very well. In any case, it’s meaty -- 2 big duets that are both major high points in the score, as well as prominence in the other scenes -- so it warrants very strong casting. Personally I think Garanca would be the best choice because of her preternaturally easy top -- any mezzo with less freedom up there does struggle a bit, particularly towards the end of the duet with the husband.

      • tiger1dk

        I seem to remember that Beverley Wolff, a mezzo, on the Beverley Sills recording dodges some of the high notes -- but I could EASILY be mistaking.

  • Camille

    What most interests me is Isokoski’s Ariadne @ Glyndborne. Do hope it will be webcast.

    Cannot imagine what an eff-ing genius it was to cast the Radvan in a role in which accurate PITCH is of critical and non negotiable significance. I will not submit to the reign of that monarch, for certain. Wahnsinn.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Wouldn’t you say though that actually, ALL of Radvanovsky’s roles are those where accurate pitch is of critical and non-negotiable significance? It isn’t as if she majors in Kunsty traumatic soprano fare -- she always seems to be going for the main stream, noble ladies who express themselves in quite classical lines, Tosca maybe excepted. I rue this casting too, because it’s probably my favourite bel canto opera, and it is so seldom performed -- I’d have considered going to New York to see it if it weren’t Radvanovsky.

      • Camille

        Well, of course, of COURSE, it is always a non negotiable, CockyK!! What I am rather too obliquely referring to is the management of all those pesky sixteenth note runs wherein the inability to sing with pinpoint precision may cause one to come to grief and end up sounding like Donizetti as arranged by Schoenberg. There, precision is even more than ALWAYS necessary. Thinking of Sutherland as an example here. Dead straight accurate on the note.

        It pains me to even mention Radvanosky at all as I do earnestly try to appreciate her positive qualities but that buzzsaw operating in her voice--not apparent the one time I heard her in the house (Final trio from Faust)--well it totally puts me off listening to her. The Trovatore HD broadcast was painful to listen to and witness.

        I thought she was going for the Verdi canon queenship--what is with the romantic bel canto operas now? I just don’t understand the switch at all. I am sorry Radvan fans. I just can’t get on board. Don’t hold it against me as I have tried.

        Why is Roberto Devereux your favourite? That is very interesting to me. I have a fondness for Maria Stuarda and wish Garanca were to be singing the Maria!!
        As far as ‘seconda donna’ roles are concerned, just how “seconda” can QEI be? She WAS the number one donna in the land. It is all very interesting and requires a doggedly determined level of investigation and research through various archives and in their original language, I feel.

        Basta, Roberti!

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          Maybe Sondra should try out some Ortrud?

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            ON, I don’t think that’s a bad idea!

          • Camille

            She has tried on both Freia and Gutrune for size, a dozen years ago. Don’t know how that worked out though since she is now the heiress apparent to the ‘bel canto’ throne.

          • armerjacquino

            Like countless sopranos over the years, she sings some bel canto roles and some spinto roles. It’s really not a difficult concept to get your head round.

        • I’ sorry Camille…

          Trovatore Leonora: bel canto
          Ernani Elvira: bel canto
          Vespri: bel canto
          Violeta: belcanto

          I would say except for Aida, Amelia and Elizabeth di Valois (which she seems ti have dropped), La Rad has concentrated on tge Verdi belcanto so far. I would venture to say that she has spent agreat deal of her career as a bel canto speciaist with roles like Lurezia already i her rep and Bolena,both Donizetti Elizabettas and Norma already in the books or being explored.

          I can understand the complains about suitability, but the claim of a sudden switch in directions is baffling to me, not to say inaccurate in the least.

          Lastly, i think that when it cones to suitability, La Rad has more of what is needed to sing these roles tbat a certain celebrated Russian Diva better known for the fexibility displayed by her spine than her vocal folds.

          • Camille

            Well, Lindoro! Long time, no hear from you.
            Thanks for the petite lecture on ‘bel canto’. What I think you are referring to are romantic operas of the early to mid ‘ottocento’

            Let me return the favour by highlighting some operas from the ‘can belto’ repertory which have figured among la Radvanosky’s repertory:

            Musetta in La Bohème = Can Belto

            Suor Angelica = Can Belto

            Floria TOSCA = Can Belto in Excelsis

            Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac (Alfano) = Can Belto

            Freia in Das Rheingold = Can Really Belto!

            Gutrune in Götterdämmerung = End of World Can Belto!

            I must say this does look a lot like the career trajectory of a “Bel Canto Specialist”, a regular second coming of Leyla Gencer, as it were.
            Or is it that of a singer who sings ‘whatever’, in hopes of finding a niche somehow, someday? With Gruberova and Devia on their respective last legs, well whom have we got? Guleghina as Norma? That was a “bel canto” styling of self that I still haven’t recovered from.

            And a note about “bel canto”:
            Il belcanto is generally considered to be on its way out in the last vestiges of the Neapolitan Rossini works, concurrent with the dying out of the castrati. The hybrid, bastard child which grew out of it in the late twenties, Il Pirata, e. g., is more correctly referred to as “Romantic Opera”, often confused.

            Don’t believe me, as there are plenty of books on the subject, which is where I obtained this enlightenment, not a quick skimming of Wikepedia.

            And hey, Radvanosky fans, wake me up—--as Cieca memorably quipped a while ago--“Wake me up when she sings in tune”!! I’ll be there, thrilled, as gurl does have some fantastic big high notes, once she lurches and staggers past the passaggio….

          • So going by the same reasoning we could safely say that:

            Callas 1 outing as Constanza makes her a Mozart specialist.

            Sills’ one off’s as Suor Angelica, Tosca, Mimi and Musetta made her a verismo specialist. Should we also talk about her one offs as Zerbinetta and Sophie and make some presumptions? Let’s not talk about her mezzo days as Carmen.

            Susanne Mentzer’s one off as meg Page makes her a Verdi specialist, same for Joyce DiDonato’s one off as the lady in waiting in Macbeth.

            Scotto’s one offs as the Marschallin and Kytamestra makes her a Strauss specialist.

            June Anderson’s recent performances as Salome heralded a new Strauss soprano.

            Tebaldi’s outing as Cleopatra made her a Handel specialist.

            The fact is that romantic operas of the early to mid ‘ottocento’ are considered bel canto because it was not until late Verdi, Puccini and Wagner that we moved away from that particularly style that started with Rossini.

            Fact is that when you look at a singer’s repertoire and you want to assert certain things, you look at the core of their rep, that is, the roles they keep coming back to; not the ones they have tried for size or fun but never do again.

            Yes, La Rad has performed all those roles and you forgot to also mention Donna Anna. And what roles was she performing in between those you mention? While not 100% certain, I will venture to guess she did some Leonoras, Violettas, and Elviras because those are the roles (and style) she keeps/kept coming back to (Violeta being a recent exception).

            Yes, it looked like she was moving away from those roles when she started singing Tosca, Aida and Amelia, but the fact that she has chosen to add at least 3 more bel canto roles in the coming seasons (Bolena, Elizabetta, Norma) in addition to the roles she has performed most often (with all those can belto roles in-between) speak volumes as to how she sees herself and the trajectory she sees her career taking.

            The fact that a singer gets hired (when young) to do a role or decides to sing a role (after being established) for curiosity or size does not mean that they are a singer who sings ‘whatever’, in hopes of finding a niche somehow. I can see that at the beginning of a career, but once that singer has established him or herself, there will be a core rep there (roles that s/he comes back to often) and like it or not, suitability complaints aside, for La Rad’s is the ottocento bel canto roles.

            Look at Renee Fleming and all the one off’s she has had in her career. That was a singer who was talked in terms of being out in the wilderness because she could not pick “anything”. I think that with the benefit of hindsight, none of us would call her anything but a Strauss specialist, even if last year she came back to Rodelinda (suitability aside) and the year before she came back to Armida (same thing).

          • Camille

            Lindoro Querido!

            Por la ultima vez--basta ya!

            I get it -- you are a fan. I would be if she sang in tune

            Please awaken me when that occurs for I would be thrilled

            As far as your circuitous argument is concerned I really don’t have the time as I am watching a fave zarzuela of mine, Luisa Fernanda, from the Teatro Real de Madrid con Domingo et al. which I highly recommend to you instead of talking about this in order to defend your reputation as maestro of bel canto!

          • Camille querida,la que empezo con la informacion erronea fuiste tu. La de la miopia y la incapacidad de ver la informacion concreta no soy yo, eres tu. I can keep up if you need to…

            To quote you: we get it, you are not a fan. We have heard it, wake you up when she sings in tune, by the 12th time you said that it had lost the impact.

            I have nothing to defend here, I was pointing concrete and factual information, the only judgement I made was that I find La Rad better than Netrebko, beyond that all the information I provided is verifiable.

            I find it very funny that you are the one making the accusation of me needing to defend certain perceived throne specially when it was you the one who came up with the snooty line “I read it in this and that book and not on Wikipedia.” As my wise mother would say, “seems someone has a chip on her shoulder and not willing to admit it.” I love you still; I think you are amazing. I know, my bad, sorry.

            Who is in that Luisa Fernanda? Spanish Zarzuela is something I need to explore, but because of my roots, I feel more inclined to go for Cuban zarzuela. I have had the final aria from Maria la O in my head for days.

            And Specially this one, with a hube high Eb. Compeletely out of style, but so exiting…

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Well Camille, for me Roberto Devereux is one of the more taut bel canto operas in terms of drama and pace (Elizabeth’s entrance aria possibly excepted, but ever bel canto prima donna needs an entrance aria!), I think almost all of the coloratura has dramatic justification right there in the text, without the need for a Zimmerman to come and make the link for us (though I don’t criticise Zimmerman for it, I really enjoyed the Met Lucia production), and I think there are moments of real top drawer operatic excitement like the ‘va la morte’ ensemble and Elizabeth’s final, creepily slow cabaletta which has so much tension and atmosphere.

          From a more sentimental point of view, one of the first CDs I ever bought when getting into opera as a teenager was a Caballe Donizetti and Bellini recital, and the ‘E Sara in questi orribili momenti’ scene on that was my favourite, and remains possibly my favourite demonstration of what made Caballe great as both singer and interpreter.

          And also, I was lucky enough to appear in a professional production of Roberto Devereux conducted by Maestro Bonynge, whose enthusiasm and love for that repertoire is infectious -- he was really inspiring to sing under, and that has stayed with me.

          • Camille

            It makes me very gratified for you that you had the opportunity to sing with Maestro Bonynge, indeed. There are lots of people who spout lots of negative things about him but I think that a lot of jealousy and ignorance. What he did for the phenomenal Sutherland is incalcuable and we are all in his debt for revealing her greater gifts than those of an aspirant Wagnerienne!

            That is also very interesting to me about the Roberto Devereux and will bear it in mind. Likewise, I had that Caballé album, a revelation to me. My favourite cut, possibly, as it is hard to choose, was the Pirata. Or the Lucrezia. At any rate, maybe I shall give a listen to Gencer’s portrayl as you have piqued my curiosity.

            Now, this is just for whatever it is worth to you and no imperial fiat, but when you retire from singing someday, perhaps you might consider a career as either a vocal coach or teacher as I think you have an uncommon ability to calmly, dispassionately analyse the qualities of voice of a singer, along with ability to diagnose. I do not know if that appeals to you or whether you have the rest of the necessary pedagogical skills--which could be obtained--but I do think you may have the capacity to help other singers, less gifted with the vocal acuity you possess.

            In the meantime, keep fast to your own career path and in bocca al lupo!

          • luvtennis

            Not to be a boring pedant, but I think the term bel canto is a bit misleading (I much prefer Camille’s descriptive terminology). In truth, the term bel canto belongs more properly to the age of Lind and Patti -- which postdates most of the operas being discussed. It really is anachronistic when applied to Rossini et al, even if their works are now considered the foundation of the bel canto rep.

    • I keep reading this about Radvanovsky and it keeps hitting my ear about the same as “It’s hard for me to watch American Idol since I have perfect pitch.”

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I don’t think it’s the same thing at all, with respect Maury. Radvanovsky for me is audibly flat in nearly every phrase, her highest notes excepted, and it bothers me not just because it’s out of tune but also because the tension that causes it makes me feel uncomfortable, and also causes that fluttery vibrato I find really unattractive. I can’t think of a single other singer who is so persistently out of tune. I’ve said it before, I really don’t mind the odd note here and there, I don’t even have much of a problem with stuff like Tebaldi being frequently flat on top notes, or Rysanek or Jones being generally all over the place, but when so many notes in a row are flat it just makes the whole thing plain unacceptable, for me. I don’t have perfect pitch so I don’t care if A doesn’t equal 440, as long as everybody’s A within a given performance is the same.

        • What can I say? I’ve heard her live half a dozen times and heard only the occasional pitch problems almost any singer has. This is apparently another of those things that is more subjective than we imagine it to be. Honestly I find her to be more reliably on pitch than Netrebko who, as you probably know, I revere greatly.

          • messa di voce

            “I’ve heard her live half a dozen times and heard only the occasional pitch problems almost any singer has”

            But Camille’s heard her once and she was on pitch, so that somehow proves she can’t sing in tune?

          • armerjacquino

            I think the thing about Radvanovsky is that there’s a quality to her vibrato, and to the slight lack of centre of her tone, which means that whether she sounds in tune or not almost depends on which part of the voice you’re listening to. I know that sounds very vague and doesn’t quite make sense, but it’s the best explanation I can give. Certainly with her Verdi album it’s possible to hear her flatness and then listen to the same track again and hear it in tune: a weird phenomenon I’ve never come across in any other singer. Schrödinger’s Soprano.

          • messa di voce

            Agree somewhat, aj. I think what people are hearing sometimes is a combination of vibrato and strange tone quality, that is actually on pitch when you check it.

            Surprisingly, some of Tebaldi’s high notes from the late 50’s that register as flat are pretty right on when you check them with an electronic device: what sounds off is the change in tone, going white and harsh, when she got into the range where she wasn’t comfortable. Of course, by the mid 60’s, I think she really had just gotten lazy about her top and let out some real clinkers.

          • Camille

            Not at all vague, armerjacquino, but precisely decined. It is the middle upper part of the voice which I hear this problem, approaching the passaggio and around it. It miraculously clears off in the big fat satisfying acuti she comes up with. It is rather strange and seems to be a by-product of some kind of an arrangement of the registers, which, perhaps, may be the means by which she produces those startlingly good high notes. I don’t know what it is, but pitch is a matter of acoustical science and measureable and not purely subjective as a Rilke poem. There are a world of semi demi hemi quavers in every note, that I do know for certain.

            Whatever else, I wish the lady and hope she can surprise us all with her percectly in tune singing.

          • Camille

            Sorry for typos --I wish her Well! Cannot be repeated enuf!

          • armerjacquino

            ‘Not at all vague, armerjacquino’

            I was referring to my definition, which was vague in the extreme.

          • Camille

            It wasn’t vague at all to me--I knew just what you meant, immediately!

            Another thing, and not to belabour the point, speaking of Radvanosky and Tebaldi in the same breath, they both have/had big voices, which don’t always record well, to put it mildly! See Regine Creapin’a autobio, another big voice, and her essay on the microphone, which she feared.

            I would have to hear Radvanosky again in the house to come to any conclusion at all on this controversial singer.

          • grimoaldo

            ” I’ve heard her live half a dozen times and heard only the occasional pitch problems almost any singer has.”

            Yes Maury, me too, although I have not heard her live half a dozen times, only once, in the SF Trovatore, and it sent me straight to heaven. Dima and Blythe too.
            One reads about how she never sings in tune all the time, maybe I am tone deaf or something, well, in that case I suppose I am lucky because I just don’t hear it although I cannot listen to Tebaldi, for instance, in recordings after about 1959 because she is not in tune to my ears especially on high notes.
            Certainly I hear a very wide vibrato in Radvan and I wonder,as aj and messa do, if somehow that translates to some peoples’ ears as out of tune?
            Anyway I do enjoy Radvan in Verdi, how she will cope with the Donizetti queens remains to be seen and I must admit I am looking forward to her Anna B in Washington in the autumn.
            Please don’t be angry with me cher Camille for liking Radvan.

          • Bosah

            Maury and Grimoaldo,

            Let me give a third to this statement. I’ve only heard Sondra in Trovatore, but despite others saying she was flat, she sounded perfectly in tune most of the time to me. I found her performance thrilling and transporting.

            I also can’t hear any flatness in her Verdi CD.

            I do think aj is on to something -- I think the combination of her odd vibrato and tone give her voice a different sound depending on a lot of factors. Perhaps her voice sounds off pitch to some, but I’d wager that, when checked, it wouldn’t be.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Fair enough Maury, that it is subjective has been demonstrated by this thread (once more), and I apologise because I see that my post above doesn’t really acknowledge that. At the same time though, it was in response to what I felt was an accusation of excessive prissyness or preciousness in the American Idol/perfect pitch comment -- I’m not that kind of opera lover, I do prefer finding things to enjoy rather than chasing after some impossible standard of perfection, and if anything I seem to get accused on this board of being too indulgent of singers’ idiosyncrasies, more often than the opposite. One of the reasons Radvanovsky frustrates me quite so much is because her top notes are so glorious, and I do love a big voice -- it’s just a shame that in her case I can’t take the rough with the smooth, because of the particular way in which the rough is manifest in her singing, for me.

        • Hoffmann

          I have only seen Radvanovsky once as Tosca at La Scala… some of the most uninteresting singing I’ve heard, she was frequently flat and the voice was just not attractive… But I did think it was just me as most of the Italians around me seemed to enjoy her performance…

          • Nerva Nelli

            Hoffmannn, I fled Sondra’s Met Tosca after 2 acts since I was bored- not a verista in verbal terms. However, that and Gutrune were the only real washouts I have heard from her.

            I have heard her sing *extremely* well in LUISA MILLER (terrific) and three TROVATOREs at the Met; the VESPRI was pretty remarkable too, as were DON CARLO ( which I was not prepared to like in her voice) and even FLEDERMAUS. Micaela and Donna Anna were odd castings, but by no means bad. Her contributions to ERNANI and STIFFELIO were generous and outshone most possible current competition.

            The TRAVIATA I found too contrived (though less so than the Rolex Flack).

            But try to see her in something besides TOSCA

      • phoenix

        -- Maury: You have been sagaciously forewarned -- a word to the wise is sufficient. But you know, she can still have a decent night once in awhile wherein the flatness is rather minimized.
        -- Cocky: Did I miss your take on Layla Claire (or whatever she calls herself) in La Finta? Yours is one of the more ‘respectable’ opinions on UK singers that I like to read. If you’ve already put your mark on it, please refer me to the proper thread. From the short quips I’ve read on this site about her, she sounds amusing, but I need something more substantial & equitable.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Phoenix, sadly harsh reality has prevented me from hanging out in Aix, and kept me in our record-breaking rain here in the UK. I haven’t heard any broadcasts if there have been any, and haven’t uttered a word about Layla Claire in some time. She’s American isn’t she? FWIW, my impression of her picked up from a few clips on YouTube and on TV is that she is extraordinary -- really remarkably free and smooth of emission, a beautiful voice and a beautiful lady. I gather she had to cancel an audition tour to Europe some months back that was to include the ROH -- I hope she gets noticed by them anyway because it would be lovely to hear her live in London soon.

          Somewhere on YouTube is a clip of her working on Non mi dir with James Levine -- from memory the coloratura was pretty staggeringly accurate and easy, as was all the slow sustained legato stuff that preceded it.

          • phoenix

            Sorry about that. I hope your reality rises up to a more viable plateau (likewise for Radvanovksy’s pitch).
            -- Layla Claire is one your distant cousins -- she is from British Columbia -- but depending from which point you are contemplating the situation -- she could be either yours or ours or both.

        • Nerva Nelli

          Layla Claire is from British Columbia and more lately trained in Philadelphia (Curtis) and in New York (Met YA). She is an excellent singer and actress- also lovely to look at. I had the opportunity to speak with her once: an intelligent person with wide musical interests.

          • phoenix

            Thanks! What a relief to know Layla has stayed out of Nerva’s toaster!
            -- I assume you attempted that La Finta video yesterday?

  • phoenix

    perhaps the whole article is just camp entertainment …

  • Annie Black

    Now I know that La Cieca must have the powers unknown to us mortals! Opera Mag doesn’t even go to print until the 12th of each month (being in advertising i know such things)…

    What a scoop- you are the Queen of all things- and I stand amazed!

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    I gather the new Met Rosenkavalier may have been conceived for Fleming, but she duffed at Tcherniakov and Gelb wouldn’t budge. The thought of Westbroek in the role is most uninspiring though. The editor of Opera in a recent Telegraph magazine review of Les Troyens referred to her as ‘increasingly generalised’ and I have to say unfortunately that I agree. Her Didon was utter dullsville until her final 10 minutes.

    • Nerva Nelli

      “I gather the new Met Rosenkavalier may have been conceived for Fleming, but she duffed at Tcherniakov and Gelb wouldn’t budge.”

      Renee will sing, with Bartlett Sher bringing his inimitable comic flair to staging the opera and Rob Besserer as Leopold. For Sophie the choice is easy:

      • Clita del Toro

        Nerva, not that skinny beast!

    • Clita del Toro

      Right, Cocky,
      After having seen Westbroek’s Didon, I think her Marschallin would be a mistake. She’s best when singing out, forte and louder; her softer singing would probably not work in Rosenkavalier—-not the most expressive singer, vocally and visually. They need someone like Schwanewilms, not Renaay. But, Renaay is the STAH, America’s stah!!

      • DurfortDM

        Expressive perhaps but its difficult to see her being so in a Marschallin sort of way. Fine for a routine revival, perhaps, but features in the first new Met production in 50 years?

        • Feldmarschallin

          While it is nice to see that the Met is finally getting around to replacing the old Rosenkavalier I am puzzled at the choice of Marschallin. Westbroek while a good singer and perhaps very good singer is better in other roles I think. Just to name a few but I think Schwanewilms, Harteros, Isokoski, Denoke and Pieczonka would have been better choices. I think Westbroek is spectacular as Minnie and Sieglinde but for a Marschallin one needs to paint with a finer brush. Even Pieczonka is a better Ariadne than Marschallin IMO. Very much looking forward to her Senta in Bayreuth in 3 weeks and then as Kaiserin here in 2013.

  • Satisfied

    I don’t know why, but I confused Dmitri Tcherniakov’s work with that of Krysztof Warlikowski and my mouth seriously dropped. That would be amusing: perhaps a production where the Marschallin gets it on with Sophie?

    Tcherniakov is a pretty bold choice for Gelb. I’m already looking forward to 2016: a new Rosenkavalier and a Decker Tristan and Isolde! Can we add a Herheim production of Cavalleria Rusticana and a Bieito helmed Billy Budd, please?

    • oedipe

      What’s wrong with Warlikowski?

    • DurfortDM

      Ooooh! A menage a trois (missing accents, I know)!! I have some reservations about excessively regie, in a DR, in particular. Further, the idea of the Marschallin getting it on with Sophie is somewhat problematic but by no means unappealing.

      • DurfortDM

        “excessiv(e) regie…”

  • Satisfied

    Absolutely nothing -- my mouth fell to the floor at the thought of Gelb choosing him. Far too regie for him to pick for a new production of DR.

  • Die Fiakermillo

    Opera’s We Hear That is famously inaccuarate, so I would bet that the Elizabeth’s are shared between Radvan and Meade. Meade is a star in her own right, not a second soprano, and has sung Elizabeth before. Both have virtues and fans and detractors and that’s what makes it all fun.

    I for one will sorely miss the old R’kav, one Met production that has served the piece admirably and still looks fresh. Replacing it is perverse, and we all can imagine the howls that the Tcherniakov will bring no matter how interesting. Can we guess the cast now -- Garanca, Westbroek, Kathleen Kim, Eric Owens as Faninal and Debbie Voigt as Anina in her new career as a character mezzo.

    For me, the real howler in the We Hear That was Jonathan Kent directing Manon Lescaut at CG. I know the Brits don’t like their italian opera to resemble anything Italian (see McVicker’s Adriana,etc) but it’s Manon Lescaut for God’s sake! The full advent in the 1980’s of British theater directors attacking opera was the beginnning of the end for me, or at least one of many beginnings of many ends.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      McVicar’s production of Adriana did a pretty good job of resembling something French, which is surely more important, since Pappano, the orchestra and the cast were on hand to take care of the Italian angle. You seem like you prefer things to be straight forward, so if Jonathan Kent aims for something resembling France and Louisiana I think things might work out just fine.

      • Die Fiakermillo

        Alas Cocky, I prefer my Manon Lescaut to resemble Livorno more that Le Havre or Risholme. Give me Magda and a piece of fake rock and a dingy backdrop anyday, singing like her lungs were on fire, than a carefully rehearsed ensemble amidst vrai Louisiana desert tumbleweeds. I found the ROH Adrian as overproduced and overpopulated as I found Gugu undervoiced and preening. Thank Gods for Kaufmann -- now he’s Italian! And please note I am not knocking Jonathan Kent as a director -- I liked the Broadway Faith Healer, the Santa Fe Tempest and Lucio Silla and his Glyndebourne Turn of the Screw. I guess I just find it funny/apalling/so not surprising the ROH wants their Italian rep to look and feel like a Handel opera.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Why so cynical? There isn’t one Handel opera on his agent biography. His ROH Tosca is not without its issues, but there is nothing un-Italian about it, and it delivers in terms of both spectacle and atmosphere.

          • Die Fiakermillo

            Sorry Cocky -- don’t mean to be cynical but have had too many evenings in the last ten years at the ROH that have left me feeling defeated, and not just of Italian rep. Having Pappano is an imnportant asset and the level of the chorus is very high, but I think my aesthetic and the house’s are just very different. I could add this isn’t only the case at the ROH, btw.

            My meaning is a piece of melodrama like Manon Lescaut should be staged with an understanding of the idiom, not a fear for oversized emotion which I have seen and felt many times at the ROH. Based on the work of his I’ve seen, Kent does not seem to me to be the right fit but it is clear the ROH likes his approach, so they hired him and I wish him luck.

            I did not see the Tosca in the house so can’t comment. The reference to Handel stagings wasn’t meant to apply only to Kent or to Handel but to a crisp, Enlightenment, “clever” aesthetic, good and bad, from Miller to Hytner to McVicker which isn’t for me in this kind of rep.

          • MontyNostry

            I have to say that I think Kent’s ROH Tosca is pretty dreary, though the petulant Cavaradossi is a good touch and the final act looks good. Act II is washout, just lots of to-ing a fro-ing on a cramped stage, and not much tension at the murder, while the Te Deum is a cop-out with Scarpia singing alone in the cellar!

    • almavivante

      I too will miss the Met’s Rosenkavalier, one of their most beautiful productions, still looking sharp and elegant the last time I saw it. I seem to find myself posting here all too frequently about productions I’ve loved that are about to be or have been retired (La Gioconda, Giulio Cesare, et al.). Or I step forward to defend a production others dislike that I find very satisfying (i.e., Aida).

      • CruzSF

        Just how old is the current Met Rosenkavalier?

        • armerjacquino

          Dates from 1969 iirc.

          • CruzSF

            Then people have lost their minds.

          • almavivante

            The only reason to retire it would be if it is in such physical disrepair it’s become shaky or unsightly. (This was the case with the gorgeous late-1950s Butterfly production, which used to be the oldest active production remaining in the Met’s repertory; if you scrutinized it with your binocs, you could see how shabby and frowsy around the edges it had become.) In much the same way as the Teatro Colon keeps its inaugural production of Aida in use, as a matter of tradition, I see no reason why select--and I do mean select--Met productions of the first order cannot be retained indefinitely if they are still stageworthy.

          • CruzSF

            I can’t think of a single composer that imagined and wanted a production of their work to last almost half a century. It reeks of a limitation of thought, a straitjacket of imagination.

          • armerjacquino

            Cruz- absolutely.

            ‘I don’t want this work to be revisited, I want it to be done in exactly the same way for 50 years’: no creative artist, ever.

          • messa di voce

            Maybe every opera house in the world should use only precise reproductions of the first staging of every opera? That would certainly satisfy our childish delight in mindless repetition. No matter where in the world you were, you’d know that Rosenkavalier would always look exactly the same.

          • armerjacquino

            Like Starbucks.

          • CruzSF

            Betsy, my familiarity with the word comes from hard-earned experience, I assure you.

          • I see no reason why select–and I do mean select–Met productions of the first order cannot be retained indefinitely if they are still stageworthy.

            I’ve touched on this before, but a “production” is only in part sets and costumes. The heart of a production is something intangible, an idea, a way of seeing the work and focusing its meaning. This sort of idea is a very perishable thing for two reasons.

            The first is that the idea is there only as long as the person who created the idea is also present: that means for a revival of a production to be genuinely 100% vital, it needs to be done by the original director or at the very least by an assistant who worked very closely with the creation of the staging. The thing is, directors die, or at least get a lot older and not so willing to travel, or else they choose the more prestigious and lucrative path of creating all-new productions at various theaters. So the lifetime of a creator-revived production is always going to be fairly brief.

            The other reason is that while we may have this notion that art is timeless, it really isn’t. We always see art though a lens of our own time. And what’s more, art is always created through a lens of the creator’s own time. A film about Henry VIII created in the 1930s is going to reflect a 1930s sensibility; one from the 1970s a ’70s vibe and so forth.

            Now, this is one issue when dealing with fixed pieces of art like film. But theater is not fixed; essentially, it’s created anew every night. But there is a problem when you are trying to create something new from materials that are 10, 15, or 40 years old.

            The ideas that inspired these productions become old and dated, no matter how profound they are. Some ideas are better able to stand the test of time, which is why there are some productions that hold up better than others. Other productions already seem stale and played out on their first revival because the ideas that inspired them were feeble and ephemeral to begin with.

            There is a further practical problem relating to the physical production, which is that sets and costumes, even those that are “realistically” in period, reflect the favored lines, textures and colors of the fashions of the time in which they were created. Look, for example, at this photo of Lisa della Casa in Le nozze di Figaro.

            The dress suggests the late 18th century setting of the opera only in superficial detail: what is far more apparent to us is how closely this dress resembles couture evening wear of the same period (1950s.

            The same is true of set design: an Aida from the 1970s is going to look like it came from the 1970s, same sense of proportions, similar use of materials to what was going on in architecture and interior design at the time.

            So the answer is that a production has a lifespan that in most cases should be measured in years and not in decades.

          • manou

            La Cieca -- the second part of your argument is also very well made by Alan Bennett in his play A Question of Attribution when the Queen and Sir Anthony Blunt discuss the Van Meegeren forgeries, and Blunt points out that one looks at works of art with the “eye” of the prevalent era:

            ( go to 2.53 if this does not work)

            of course in this play the theme is forgery as treachery, but it is interesting nevertheless -- look at all the Hollywood “period” epics of the fifties where all the leading ladies wear cantilevered bras and Ben Nye make-up.

          • manou

            OK -- so it does not work -- please click on the second link and go to 2.53.

            My apologies.

          • DurfortDM

            La Cieca is, of course, entirely correct. The one caveat is that this critique of the durability of productions, applies a fortiorito Herheim-style Regie. Proper execution of such a production requires not only direct supervision by the director but very extensive rehearsal not only with singers but with orchestra to properly co-ordinate the complex proceedings on stage with those in the pit. This would make a 3rd or 4th revival a half a decade or even less from the premiere, involving some leads not in the original cast and of necessity lacking such rehearsal time and extremely dicey and probably a quite messy proposition. This would seem to make this kind of production generally more appropriate for a festival and perhaps occasional (and well rehearsed) revival at stagione houses rather than for a staple in repertory theaters.

          • Rowna

            To CruzSF -- How can you know what composers wanted re productions and how long they should last? For all any of us know, I don’t think this ever crossed their minds. Hard to interview Verdi, Puccini or Wagner today. If you are an opera composer today, you are THRILLED to get one production! If a production is really great, why retire it?

          • armerjacquino

            Rowna- none of us can necessarily know (although I bet there’s something on record from one of the composers you cite about his attitude to revivals).

            But ‘we don’t know what they would have thought’ isn’t really a compelling argument for wheeling out the same production over and over again for nearly half a century, is it?

          • CruzSF

            Rowna, the history books are filled with discussions and documentary evidence about the conventions of the time. Composers from the time of Mozart and before, and from the bel canto era, often didn’t  expect their operas to run beyond a few years because their audiences preferred the new. Wagner initially wanted his theater burned to the ground after each Ring Cycle. I would expect you to know this since you’re a teacher. 

  • la vociaccia

    I rather like the idea of a Kaufmann Des Grieux, in fact that sounds great to my ears. Hopefully Angela will get the whole run of Roberto Devereux, although as previously mentioned the who’s-better hype between her and Rad could create some juicy publicity.

    • I don’t think anyone has mentioned the upside of this casting. If you look at the original casting The Met had Poplavskaya cast as Elisabetta.
      I really want to like this soprano. When she comes on she looks engaged but her performances I have seen have been so vocally uneven. I just can’t get into her.
      You can’t base a career on having beautiful long blond hair.
      I don’t know if Sondra would be my first choice but she is a fine singer and artist.
      Why, couldn’t they have cast Bartoli who proved herself with La Sonnambula. Or try someone young and exciting like Kurzak, Sills didn’t have a BIG voice but she had the notes and the excitement for the role. I go for excitement I heard MS. Meade in Bolena and found Netrebko much more exciting and involved.
      I think casting this opera today is very hard.I wish them all luck and hopes it works out well.

    • Clita del Toro

      la vociaccia, Kaufmann’s Des Grieux at LOC was excellent (Dessay was the Manon).

  • Byrnham Woode

    So the ROSENKAVALIER gets the hook after roughly 47 years since it’s premiere. I can’t complain at that, no matter how well the sets and costumes have been refurbished (two restorations have been done, I think). It’s simply time for the company to approach the work differently.

    HOFFMANN was gone after 25 plus years, and the world’s only “realistic” RING was replaced after 22 years. We just “lost” TOSCA after similar yardage. It is necessary for this kind of “change” to happen, or the company will atrophy. You can’t just keep putting the singers through their paces with some assistant director trying to follow the notes in the production book.

  • Hippolyte

    Speaking of future MET Strauss productions, the premiere of the Chereau-Salonen Elektra has been announced for July 2013 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival with Herlitzius, Meier, Pieczonka and Petrenko.